click names for a brief biographical sketch
|Fra. Dennis Mayer
Mar 20, 1924 – Sep 25, 1951
|Fr. Simon Smith
Aug 12, 1894 – Mar 25, 1952
|Dom Gerard McGinley
Apr 21, 1906 – Sep 19, 1955
|Fr. James LaNasa
Feb 19, 1923 – Feb 22, 1958
|Br. Herman Somers
Apr 21, 1908 – Jan 31, 1961
| Fr. Augustine Westland
Apr 28, 1896 – Dec 16, 1970
|Fr. Bede Czarny
Sep 7, 1901 – Feb 4, 1978
|Br. William Troy
Apr 1, 1925 – Apr 11, 1980
|Fr. John Horton
Sep 8, 1911 – Oct 1, 1980
|Fr. Ambrose Blouin
Aug 17, 1906 – Sep 21, 1983
|Br. Elias Morad
Feb 21, 1923 – Aug 23, 1985
|Dom John V. LaFlamme
Aug 4, 1915 – Jul 16, 1988
|Fr. Paul Kent
Jul 8, 1922 – Jun 20, 1991
|Br. Paschal Galligan
Feb 21, 1924 – Aug 23, 1991
|Br. Alexis Ehmann
Sep 13, 1910 – Sep 6, 1994
|Fr. Joseph DeSimone
Nov 1, 1922 – Nov 9, 1994
|Fr. Urban Snyder
Apr 7, 1912 – Jan 25, 1995
|Br. Hugh Haney
Oct 22, 1906 – Apr 23, 1998
|Br. Simon Wong
Feb 18, 1930 – Aug 17, 1998
|Br. Quentin Zettler
Nov 20, 1919 – Nov 13, 1998
|Br. Michael Hughes
Dec 12, 1920 – Jan 14, 2000
|Br. Sylvester McCormick
Mar 7, 1909 – Oct 18, 2000
|Fr. Joseph Stanton
Nov 19, 1922 – Aug 8, 2002
| Fr. Regis Tompkins
Nov 7, 1908 – Oct 11, 2002
|Fr. Thomas Bond
Jul 8, 1906 – Jun 10, 2006
|Br. John Baptist Schmidt
Jan 8, 1916 – Feb 7, 2009
|Br. Andrew Nolan
Oct 20, 1922 – Nov 29, 2009
|Fr. Raymond Fournier
Mar 24, 1924 – Sep 21, 2010
|Br. Henry Hufnagel
Apr 18, 1925 – Dec 1, 2011
|Fr. Robert Moore
Mar 6, 1922 – May 19, 2012
|Br. Theodore Daly
Apr 17, 1928 – Mar 27, 2013
|Fr. Francis Steger
Apr 21, 1929 – Dec 15, 2013
He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, entered Gethsemani as a choir novice in 1947, and was called Frater Dennis, the title Frater (Brother) being customarily used for choir novices at the time. While still in simple vows at Gethsemani he was chosen as the second superior of the projected Genesee foundation, and he set to work preparing for the move.
At this time he learned he had cancer, but continued with his plans for Genesee, and came up with the other founders. He was a tall, friendly, cheerful, very intelligent person and also a skilled carpenter. With the help of several laymen he built Bethlehem chapel as an extension to the original building.
He made a great impression in the Genesee Valley area and Father Joseph Cirrincione, a good friend of the community, read excerpts from Frater Dennis’s letters on his Family Rosary for Peace radio program. Shortly before he would have been ordained a priest, he died of cancer at age 27 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. He was the first monk of the Genesee community to die.
At that time the liturgy and clerical studies were in Latin, and Frater Dennis often used a Latin motto, Ego amo te (I love you). For many years after his death his mother would write to the community annually around the time of his death, and would always use that motto, Ego amo te.
He was born in Lebanon, Kentucky not far from Gethsemani, the twelfth of thirteen children of devout Catholic parents of African-American descent. As a boy he often visited Gethsemani with his father, who worked there as a plasterer, and early in life he determined to become a Trappist at Gethsemani eventually.
In 1921 he entered the seminary of the Divine Word Society (S.V.D.), and was ordained priest in May, 1934, Kentucky’s first priest of African-American descent. He spent several years in the active ministry in various parts of the country, much appreciated for his parish work and the many missions he preached. In 1948 he finally did enter Gethsemani, and was a quiet, cheerful, and well-liked member of the large group of novices. He was given charge of the beehives, and did not seem to mind being stung by the bees.
Father Simon made his solemn profession on May 20, 1951 and a few days later was appointed novice master of the new foundation of the Monastery of Christ the King in Piffard, New York. Though he found the cold weather difficult to bear, he obeyed cheerfully. He was known for giving short, and very good and helpful sermons.
He had a heart attack on March 22, 1952 and was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, New York where he died a few days later. His funeral took place on a cold, snowy day, and for his burial he was carried from Bethlehem House, where the community was living at the time, to the original cemetery within the present Abbey enclosure.
“The Valley of Mary’s Smile” was the name given to the Genesee Valley area where the monastery is situated by its founding superior and first abbot, Dom Gerard McGinley. He had been born on the family homestead near Baldwin, Wisconsin and as a teenager moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota. Both his parents died when he was young, and he was then raised by his older brothers and sisters.
He entered the Paulist novitiate in Oak Ridge, New Jersey in 1925 but transferred to Gethsemani in January, 1926. He made solemn vows in 1932, was ordained priest in 1935, and served the Gethsemani community as novice master and prior. Abbot James Fox of Gethsemani appointed him first superior of the projected foundation of Genesee in 1949.
Fr. Gerard led several groups of monks from Gethsemani to Genesee in the spring of 1951 and quickly got the community off to a vigorous start, spiritually and materially. He made many friends in the area, began the buildings of the monastery, established its work program of farm and bakery, and gave strong spiritual support to the monks and novices. When the monastery became an abbey in 1953 he was elected its first abbot on October 13, and received the abbatial blessing from Rochester’s Bishop James Kearney on November 9.
His death from complications of diabetes and a heart condition at the 1955 General Chapter at Citeaux was a profound shock to the young community. Dom Gerard formed the monks of Genesee into a warm, happy, loving community and this spirit of his remains an integral part of its heritage to the present day.
He was born in Rochester, New York and later lived in Geneva, New York. After graduating from Canisius College in Buffalo, he studied at Syracuse University and earned a degree in law. He then practiced law for a few years.
He entered the fledgling Genesee community in December, 1951 while it was still living at Bethlehem House, and was the first person to enter the community here at Genesee and persevere. He was a serious, perceptive monk who concentrated on all that he was doing in the daily monastic routine, and also related well with others in the community.
He developed prostate cancer while in simple vows, but continued his studies for the priesthood. He was already very weak when he made solemn vows in August, 1957. He then spent some time being cared for at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, where Bishop James Kearney of Rochester ordained him to the priesthood in November, 1957. Father James then returned to the Abbey, and died in the Abbey infirmary on February 22, 1958.
He was born in nearby Batavia, New York. He married and he and his wife had two daughters. After she divorced him, he entered the Abbey as a laybrother oblate in 1954. His former wife and his daughters visited him regularly at the Abbey, on friendly terms.
Brother Herman was serene, pleasant, tranquil, and observant of the Rule. Before entering the Abbey he had worked at metal lathing. In the monastic community he worked in the bakery office and as bookkeeper. Also, he drove the Monks’ Bread truck to town several days a week, taking a box lunch with him and always returning in time for Compline.
He developed cancer and was cared for at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. When near death he returned to the Abbey and died very peacefully in the infirmary, after many in the community had visited him and spoken with him.
He was born in Denver, Colorado. As a young man he entered the Jesuits, studied theology at a seminary in Spain, was ordained a Jesuit priest, became a seismologist, and taught seismology at a Jesuit college, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama for many years.
In the late 1940s he entered Gethsemani, and came to Genesee in the early 1950s as one of the founders. He served the Genesee community as prior, professor of theology, and guestmaster, and was much appreciated as a confessor by many both inside and outside the community.
In April, 1960 he suffered a major stroke, and was paralyzed on his left side, and largely bedridden, for the rest of his life. Because he had a rather active temperament, his prolonged illness was a real trial for him. But he fought the good fight of serving the Lord, referring to himself as “The Old Warrior,” listening to Spanish music, and continuing to serve as confessor for many in the community.
He died in his small room in the old infirmary, in the presence of Abbot Jerome Burke. Many friends from outside the community attended his funeral, which was held on a cold, snowy winter day.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, the next to youngest in a large Polish-American family of nine or ten children. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago, entered Gethsemani in 1949, and came to Genesee as a founder in the early 1950s.
Fr. Bede was cheerful, friendly, and thoughtful of others, a good community man. He was solid in his monastic observance, with an especially fervent devotion to our Lady. He was novice master for awhile in the 1950s, and prior in the early 1960s. Somewhat frail physically, he served the community by distributing mail, helping the porter at the gatehouse, hearing guests’ confessions, and giving spiritual guidance to guests at the retreat house.
His final illness was quite difficult. Due to the condition of his health, he had to spend a few months in hospitals in Batavia and Buffalo, and then several days at a nursing home in Geneseo, where he died. He bore this final cross with courage and his accustomed good spirit.
He was born in Paterson, New Jersey and was a high school biology teacher. After his marriage ended in divorce, he entered the community on three different occasions over a period of twenty years or so, the final time being in September, 1978. On this third attempt to follow our way of life he had great determination to stay in the monastery, which he loved very much.
Brother William was a hard worker, a good cook, and a fine craftsman in wood. He was very friendly and personable, a good community man. And he struggled mightily to overcome a natural tendency to flare up in anger.
On Easter Friday in 1980, while still a novice, he had a major heart attack and died at 3:00p.m. in the Abbey’s old infirmary before an ambulance, which had been summoned, could arrive. His sudden death was quite a shock to the community. He had persevered to the end in a rather unique way, and he was remembered with much admiration and affection.
He was born in California and grew up in Kansas. As a young man he entered the Catholic Church, studied at a seminary, and was ordained to the diocesan priesthood in 1944. He entered Gethsemani in 1946 and came to Genesee as a founder in the 1950s.
Father John was a calm, quiet person who served the community as refectorian and by working in the library. He was an avid bird watcher and could often be seen in the woods behind the Abbey with a pair of binoculars draped over his neck, carrying a book describing various types of birds to be seen. He had had rheumatic fever as a boy and was in frail health throughout his life.
By his own description of himself, he was a loner in community life, but was always peaceful in his relations with others. ln the last few months of his life, as his health declined due to his rheumatic heart condition, he awaited the Lord’s coming with quiet, even eager, anticipation. And on the very day of his death he grew in his ability to relate with others in a friendly way. He died in his room in the old infirmary while the community was celebrating Vespers and Mass on a bake day.
He was born in the bayou country of Louisiana and as a young man entered the Benedictines at St. Joseph’s Abbey, St. Benedict, Louisiana. He was sent to Rome to study theology at Sant’ Anselmo and was ordained priest in 1932. He transferred to our Order at Gethsemani in 1948 and was one of the original founders of Genesee, leaving Gethsemani on April 4, 1951 with Fr. Gerard and Brs. Alexis, Paschal, and Sylvester, staying overnight in Cleveland, Ohio, arriving in Piffard on April 5, and staying for the first few weeks at Westerly, the Porter Chandlers’ summer residence nearby.
Father Ambrose served the Genesee community as sacristan, Father Master of the Laybrothers, and subprior for many years. He was reliable, devout, and sincere. A few years before his death he developed dementia symptoms, and had a series of slight strokes.
In 1982 several members of his family, who had visited him on a number of occasions before, came from Louisiana to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his priestly ordination. This proved to be their final visit. He died during the night of September 20-21, 1983 seemingly of a stroke, in his room in the old infirmary.
Brother Elias died on August 23, the same day of the year as Brother Paschal, and they had both been born on the same day, February 21. Brother Elias was born into a large, closely-knit Lebanese-American family of Melkite rite Catholics in Cleveland, Ohio and spoke Arabic fluently. He was a paratrooper in World War II, and also a professional prizefighter. He underwent a profound religious conversion experience while living in Lebanon, and entered Genesee as a laybrother in 1954.
His life in the monastery always had an eremitical tone to it, and it was a real experience to see him praying in church. He would be totally absorbed in prayer, seemingly oblivious of his surroundings, for long periods of time. In the late 1960s he received permission to live as a hermit on the Abbey property, and his small hermitage on the ridge in the woods behind the Abbey is still known as Brother Elias’s Hermitage.
He 1ived a very austere life, but was able to blend this with an extremely warm, friendly, brotherly spirit which he manifested quite openly. He died of cancer, and suffered a good deal during his final months. His large family visited him often during his illness, and filled the church for his funeral. A man of deep prayer, he made a very real impact on those who knew him.
He was born in the province of Québec, Canada, the youngest member of a very large French Canadian family. He became a young oblate at the monastery of Mistassini in 1926, entered the community of Mistassini in 1934, made profession of solemn vows in 1941, and was ordained, priest in 1944.
He was elected abbot of Mistassini in 1960 and served in that role until 1965. He then spent a year or so at the monastery of Prairies, in the province of Manitoba, Canada but because he had a heart condition the climate there was too cold for him. He came to Genesee in 1966 and changed his stability to Genesee in 1971. For a number of years he spent several months each winter at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia, and would return to Genesee for the summer months.
Dom John, as he was known, was a very cheerful, friendly man. He liked vigorous outdoor work and did some of this in his first few years at Genesee. But he was eventually unable to continue this because of the many health problems which increasingly marked his later years. He bore these infirmities, and the difficulties of living outside his native land and speaking a language other than his mother tongue, with courage, fortitude, and grace. He died during a hot summer night while sitting on a bench outside the old infirmary, seemingly of a heart attack. He is remembered with a good deal of respect and affection.
He was born in Norwood, Ohio and served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. He entered Gethsemani in l946, made solemn vows there in 1951, came to Genesee a year or two later, and was ordained priest at Genesee in 1954. Father Paul, who was known as Father Luke for many years until he returned to his baptismal name of Paul in the 1960s, had a very real devotion to our Lady. He was a talented worker, doing especially well at carpentry.
In actual fact, it was difficult for him to live peacefully with other people. Because of this, in 1966 he was required to leave the property on an exclaustration, Subsequently he built a hermitage in Texas and lived there as a hermit, faithful to his monastic commitment and his priesthood, for the rest of his life. During these years a number of the monks kept in touch with him by mail.
After he died it was discovered in his will that he had requested, if it be possible, that he be buried in the Abbey cemetery. Abbot John Eudes readily arranged that his remains be returned to the Abbey. A funeral mass was celebrated for him in the Abbey church, and he was buried in the Abbey cemetery.
He was born in Queens County in the city of New York and as a young man served in the U. S. Navy during World War II. He entered Gethsemani in 1947 as a laybrother and while still in simple vows became one of the original group of founders of Genesee, leaving Gethsemani with Fr. Gerard McGinley and the other founders on April 4, 1951 and arriving in the Genesee Valley the next day.
Brother Paschal once said that he found it easy to be cheerful, and he had a special gift for rejoicing with those who were rejoicing. He saw the brighter side of things, and had a good brotherly spirit. He also loved animals, and cared for their needs. He was a man of real simplicity, and made special efforts to understand other peoples’ needs, and not to offend other people.
He had great devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and followed her Little Way faithfully. He developed cancer, and in his last months was very much at peace, trusting in God’s love for him. He died very peacefully in his room in the old infirmary in the presence of Abbot John Eudes and two of the brothers, who were saying the Prayers for the Dying for him.
Brother Alexis was Germany’s gift to Genesee. Born In Offenbach am Main, Germany in 1910, he moved to Chicago with his family in the late 1920s and entered Gethsemani as a laybrother in 1938. He was at Gethsemani’s first foundation at Conyers, Georgia for awhile, but returned to Gethsemani. He was then one of the original group of founders of Genesee, arriving in the Genesee Valley with Fr. Gerard and the others on April 5, 1951.
Brother Alexis worked as cook, kitchen manager, and accountant and always took his work with the utmost seriousness. He seemed largely oblivious of the fact that some in the community were not able to take work quite as seriously as he did. His devotional life, especially his Marian devotion, was marked by tenderhearted piety and had a definite emotional tone. He loved to write out his thoughts on various spiritual topics, and would gladly share them with anyone who was interested in reading them.
He was generous in his consideration for his brother monks and for the community’s guests, and very regular and faithful in his daily monastic life. He had some health problems in his final years, but stayed in his room in McGinley Hall rather than move to the infirmary. He died during the night, having been in church for Compline the previous evening.
Born in Italy, he entered the Franciscans in his youth, studied at a seminary in Spain, was ordained to the priesthood, and served as a missionary in Colombia. In the 1950s he entered our Order at Viaceli in Spain, but soon transferred to Genesee, which he had visited on his way from Colombia to Viaceli.
He made solemn vows at Genesee, and served the community as sub-master of choir novices and as an assistant cantor. He was also a talented craftsman, especially in wood. In the mid-1960s he studied moral theology at the Alfonsiana in Rome. Soon after returning to Genesee he asked to live as a hermit living off the property, and pursued the eremitical life in a number of places, eventually in British Columbia, Canada. He visited Genesee at this time, and then returned to his hermitage in British Columbia, where he died. He lies buried in the cemetery of Genesee.
He was born in Louisville, Kentucky and became a lawyer. He entered. Gethsemani in 1942, made solemn vows, and was ordained a priest in 1947. He served at Gethsemani as novice master for the choir monks. He came to Genesee in the 1950s, and was later sent to Rome for studies, and then spent two years helping at the Generalate of the Order in Rome.
Father Urban then spent a very long time, over twenty-five years, on an extended leave of absence. While away from the Abbey and the monastic life, he developed Alzheimer’s disease. He returned to Genesee in 1992 and was cared for in the Abbey infirmary. Shortly before he died in the infirmary, though no longer able to speak, he was able to communicate his appreciation to the visiting nurse, and to those in the community who helped care for him.
He was born in Manhattan and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a young man he worked on Wall Street, in New York’s financial district. He entered Gethsemani in 1945, and came to Genesee as a member of the founding group in 1951.
Brother Hugh was, throughout his entire monastic life, one of the most deeply loved and respected members of the community. A naturally friendly man, with a warm smile and an agreeable manner, he was devout in his monastic life, always generous in serving the community, and very humane in all his ways. Everyone seemed to like him and to appreciate his good monastic spirit.
He was an avid reader, and kept in touch with both traditional classical works of spirituality, and lively accounts of current Church and world news. In his later years he experienced a number of health setbacks, including the amputation of his left leg below the knee a few years before he died. He bore all this with patience and cheerfulness. He died in his room in the Abbey’s old infirmary, having been cared for by a community which loved him very much indeed.
A few years after Brother Simon died, one of the monks who had lived with him for many years said: “I can’t imagine anyone not loving Brother Simon.” Calm, patient, tranquil, gentle, inoffensive, he was a very easy man to live with. He had been born in Cincinnati, Ohio the sixth child in a family of seven children, His parents had been born in south China. They were not Christians, but his older brothers and sister had been baptized as Catholics while attending a Catholic school and they had him baptized as a baby.
As a young man he visited Gethsemani frequently, served in the U. S. Army, and worked in the family business. He entered Genesee in 1960 and for many years was faithful to the daily round of liturgical prayer, lectio divina, and manual labor. In the 1980s he received permission to live as a hermit in a small hermitage on the monastic property, which became known as Brother Simon’s Hermitage.
In his later years all his good qualities reached a certain fullness, and his very presence seemed to radiate a spirit of quiet contemplative wisdom. He was silent but friendly, a good brother. In the fall of 1997 he was diagnosed as having cancer of the pancreas. His last several months were made easier by chemotherapy, and he was a cooperative patient, loved by all the doctors and nurses who cared for him, and very much appreciated, and eventually missed, by his brother monks. He died during the night in his room in the old infirmary.
He was born in Canton, Ohio, served in the U. S. Army during World War II, entered Gethsemani in the late 1940s, and came to Genesee as one of the founders of the community. Brother Quentin served as sub-master of laybrother novices, and later of all the novices, for many years. He was a talented handyman, and very generous in serving others, the first one to volunteer when extra work needed to be done.
He was a man of great simplicity and guilelessness, friendly, reliable, solid in his devotion, and with a good brotherly spirit at all times. Some in the community considered him to be a kind of personal embodiment of the spirit of the community.
He was the last one to die in the old infirmary, before the new infirmary was ready for occupancy in January, 1999. He was sorely missed at his passing.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the Bronx and in Valhalla, New York. He served in the U.S. Army for the duration of World War II, and later worked as a gardener, and at road construction, helping to build the New York State Thruway in the 1950s. He entered the community in 1960 as a laybrother, and was always inspired by the ideal of the working brother. He worked faithfully in the bakery, and was in charge of the laundry, and later of the garage.
Brother Michael had a lively personality, and throughout his monastic life he struggled manfully to practice patience, a virtue which did not come easily to him, as he himself often stated, sometimes emphatically.
In the mid-1980s he developed Parkinson’s disease, and later, dementia symptoms. He struggled with his illness, eventually accepted it, and in the last several months of his life he became a patient man. He was the first member of the community to die in the new infirmary, surrounded by Abbot John Eudes and several members of the community.
Born in 1909 in Rutherglen, Scotland, of mostly Irish ancestry, he was the oldest of seven children and moved with his family to Norwood, Ohio in 1928. As a young man he was a Golden Gloves prizefighter, and also loved to bowl. He served in the U. S. Navy during World War II.
He entered Gethsemani as a laybrother in 1948, and was one of the original founders of Genesee, leaving Gethsemani with the founding group on April 4, 1951 and arriving in the Genesee Valley on April 5. For many years he served as porter, and was well known to many people in the local area for his quiet cheerfulness, friendliness, and good sense of humor. Within the community he was known for his silence, fidelity to the daily monastic observances, and good brotherly spirit.
He often said that on three occasions he heard the Lord say to him: “You are my friend,” and that he had not expected that when he entered the monastery. For the last twenty years of his life he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, which he bore with peace, patience, and his accustomed sense of humor. A much-loved senior of the community, he died peacefully at the age of 91.
He was born in Englewood, New Jersey, and also lived at various times in Massachusetts and North Carolina. As a young man he married and he and his wife had two daughters and a son. After a particularly painful divorce he waited several years, continuing to work as an engineer and to enjoy boating and playing in a band, and then entered the monastery in 1973 at age 50. He made solemn vows in 1979 and was ordained priest in 1984.
Father Joseph had many talents, especially in the field of engineering. On a few different occasions he spent an extended stay at Genesee’s daughter house of Awhum in Nigeria, where he taught theology and constructed a hydraulic water system to deliver clean water from a nearby stream to the monastery and to the entire village of Awhum.
For the last several years of his life he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, eventually experiencing marked cognitive impairment. At an early stage of this disease he affirmed that he accepted everything that had happened, was happening, and would happen. During this illness he was supported by his monastic community and also by his family. He died at the Sisters of Saint Joseph Infirmary in Rochester, New York where he had been sent for a respite stay. Abbot John Denburger was with him when he died.
He was born in Louisville, Kentucky and as a young man entered the Jesuits. After twenty- two years as a Jesuit, eleven as a scholastic and eleven as a brother, he entered Gethsemani in 1950. He came to Genesee as a founder in the early 1950s, and was ordained priest in 1954.
Father Regis was a profoundly spiritual man, and always very much respected and loved in the community. His mother had died when he was only nine years old, and the pain associated with this event remained with him throughout his entire life. This may have accounted for his deep interiority. He was a man of prayer and a man of compassion, and an inspiration to all who knew him.
As prior, he guided the young community in the difficult days following the death of Dom Gerard McGinley in 1955. And from September 1963 to May 1964 he again guided the community during a difficult stage in its history, this time as acting superior. He was novice master and prior alternately for many years. He had special concern for all the former members of the community, many of whom had been his novices, and whenever any of them would come back to visit the community they would invariably ask to see him.
His last several years were marked by a number of health problems. He died in his room in the new infirmary in the presence of two members of the community, one a former novice of his and the other the community’s only novice at the time, He was a novice master to the end.
Wonderful was a word which fell very frequently from Fr. Thomas’s lips and is perhaps the best word to describe him. His presence to others in the community was uniformly cheerful, encouraging, thoughtful, and genuinely charitable. He had been born, the youngest of three brothers, in Washington, DC and raised there and in Los Angeles.
He entered the Dominicans in 1932, was ordained to the priesthood in 1939, and then sent to Manila in The Philippine Islands to teach and do further studies. He spent the years 1941-45 as a prisoner of war in The Philippines, and then returned to the USA, where he taught at a Dominican college in Ohio, having earned a PhD in philosophy along the way.
He entered Gethsemani in 1948 and was one of the founders of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina in 1949. He came to Genesee in 1964 to teach moral theology, also taught philosophy here, and wound up staying here, changing his stability to Genesee in 1969. He was guestmaster for a number of years, and a much-appreciated confessor to monks and guests alike.
He became unsteady on his feet in his mid-90s and moved into the infirmary in 2001. He remained lucid and cheerful and was looking forward to his 100th birthday on July 18, but died rather suddenly on June 10, seemingly of a stroke. A niece and her husband, who had visited him several months previously, were present for his wake and funeral. He is remembered, as a wonderful monk.
Brother John Baptist, or JB, as everyone called him, was born in Columbus, Ohio the third of seven children of a lively German-American family whose members all remained very close to each other throughout their entire lives. As a young man he tried his vocation as Franciscan brother three times, and then entered Gethsemani on three separate occasions, finally remaining in the monastery, and making solemn vows in 1952.
He spent a number of years at New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, California and then came to Genesee in 1970, and eventually made his stability at Genesee. JB did well in many fields. He was a mechanic, a violinist, a singer, a cook, and a calligrapher. But mostly he was a very generous, friendly, cheerful monk, quick to help others, and always very popular in the community. He also spent long hours in prayer, and had a particular love for the Psalms.
The last decade of his life was marked by many illnesses, which he bore with patience and a very joyful spirit. He died very peacefully in his room in the infirmary, in the presence of Abbot John Denburger, several other monks, and a good friend of the community. Many of his relatives and friends came for his wake and funeral.
He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, served in the Army Air Force during World War II, and married a few years later. He and his wife Phyllis raised eight children and in 1983, when the children were in their 20s and 30s, and with his wife’s written consent, he entered our community.
In 1989 he received special permission from Pope John Paul II to make solemn vows as a monk while remaining a married man. He was able to combine total commitment to the monastic life with an ongoing love and dedication to his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Brother Andrew had a good spirit. He was cheerful, devout, generous, and thoughtful of others. He was responsible for seeing to the needs of those who came to the Abbey seeking financial help, and always showed them a humane welcome and profound respect. He was very concerned about a number of social causes, such as pro-life, peace with justice, and care for the needs of the poor.
He remained physically active through out his monastic life, dedicated to serving the needs of the community, especially by helping in the kitchen. He died, somewhat unexpectedly, from a massive heart attack while recuperating from surgery for a broken hip. His wife had died a few months previously. His children, several grandchildren, and many friends in our area attended his funeral.
He was born in Detroit, Michigan and at the age of 16 entered the Christian Brothers. As a Brother he taught at schools in Brooklyn, New York; the Philippines, where he was novice master and president of a college; Detroit, Michigan; and Syracuse, NY.
He entered Genesee in 1978, made solemn profession in 1980, and was ordained priest in 1981. Father Raymond served the community as prior, and as novice master, and worked in the laundry and the accounting office. He was known for his steady perseverance, and his wry sense of humor.
He loved vigorous outdoor work, specializing in removing tree stumps. In the last several years of his life he made the section of woods between the cow barn and garage into a beautiful park, now known as Father Raymond’s Park.
In 2003 he was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease, and later developed dementia symptoms. Other health complications led to his hospitalization at Highland Hospital in Rochester, New York, where he died peacefully in the presence of Abbot John Denburger, having completed seventy years in the Lord’s service.
Br. Henry was born in Lockport, New York, the eldest of six children. Several years after he was born his family moved to a nearby farm. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, and entered Genesee as a laybrother in 1955 at age 30.
He worked on the monastery farm, and also worked in the bakery, serving as bakery manager for awhile. He raised bees for many years, and treated the communmity to honey and honeycombs. For a number of years he served as submaster of novices.
Brother Henry did not seem to find the monastic life easy. The various monastic observances were a challenge to him. But he persevered in the monastic life for 56 years, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his solemn profession in April 2011. He was always very devoted to the rosary, and often would make rosary beads and give them to people as gifts.
His health condition for the last several months of his life was such that he had to be cared for at a nursing home in nearby Mount Morris, New York. He died there peacefully, with the assistant infirmarian and a good friend of the Abbey with him. He had his rosary beads in his hands.
He was born in Boonville, Indiana, spent his early boyhood years in the Detroit area, and then moved with his family to the Bronx, New York. Upon graduating from New York’s Regis High School in 1940, he entered Maryknoll, ws ordained a priest in 1949, and then spent 30 years as a missionary in East Africa. During these years he also earned a Ph.D. in anthropology and linguistics from Syracuse University.
He entered Genesee in 1981, and made solemn profession in 1984. As a monk of Genesee, he spent time at a number of OCSO houses, including a year and a half serving as a chaplain to the nuns of Butende in Uganda.
Many in the community found it quite a challenge to live with Father Robert. He was keenly aware of how the actions of others affected him, but at times he seemed unconcerned about how his own actions affected others. But the community showed him a good deal of acceptance, patience, and love. And he himself was always faithful to prayer, being careful to recite privately any Hours of the Office he could not attend in church.
His last 15 or 20 years were marked by a number of health issues, including hallucinations. When his response to these became dangerous to himself and others, it was necessary to have him reside at two different nursing homes. Yet he was able to return to the community 10 days before he died in our infirmary, his last word having been: Abbey. He had always had a very traditional devotion to Mary, and he died on a Saturday in May.
Br. Theodore Daly 1928-2013
He was born in Philadelphia, Pensylvania the sixth of eight children of a devout closely-knit Irish-American Catholic family. He graduated from Northeast Catholic High School for Boys in 1946, and then worked for three years in a paper mill, where he showed great zeal and ardor for work.
Brother Theodore entered Gethsemani as a laybrother in 1949, and came to Genesee as one of the founders in 1951. For many years he played a major role in the bakery, feeding the oven and doing other work in the bread bakery, and developing a number of fruticakes, cakes, and cookies. He did all this work with tremendous energy, as an expression of his love for God and the community.
He also did a lot of bookbinding work, and kept the Abbey Chronicle for a long time. He loved to walk in the woods, saying his rosary. And he planted many evergreen trees along the banks of Salt Creek.
Brother Thedore was always very faithful to prayer, both liturgical and solitary, and to lectio divina. He was very reliable, a true spiritual pillar of the community. He died in the Abbey infirmary, and his funeral was attended by a large number of members of his family.
He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the third in a family of five sons, and as a boy moved with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota. After attending Cretin High School in St. Paul, he entered the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and spent some time with them at a seminary in Alabama.
He entered Gethsemani in 1949 and came to Genesee as a founder after making temporary profession in 1951. He made solemn profession here at Genesee in 1954 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. Father Francis then studied dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1963 to 1965.
For many years he served the Genesee community as prior, professor of theology, guest master, and novice master. In the late 1970s he spent more than a year teaching at Genesee’s first daughter house at Awhum, Nigeria. In the late 1990s he was instrumental in founding the Genesee Lay Contemplatives, a group of lay people associated with the Abbey. For the last decade of his life he suffered from a number of health problems and received care in the Abbey infirmary.
Fr. Francis was a cheerful man. He was very devoted to prayer and lectio divina, and was a real mainstay of the community. He was the last surviving founder of the Abbey to live with us for over sixty years. He died peacefully in the Abbey infirmary.
Founders of Novo Mundo, Brazil and Buried There
Brother Cyprian Gruber 1921-1989 – March 25
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and studied electrical engineering in college. He was a Jesuit novice, then entered Gethsemani in 1948. He came to Genesee as one of the founders, and over the years served the community at various times as prior, infirmarian, librarian, and electrician.
Brother Cyprian did things in a steady, reliable way. He was responsible for the electrical wiring in the bakery oven, and for many years he also rose in the middle of the night several times a week to mix the dough for Monks’ Bread. He was very devoted to the ideal of monastic poverty, and was always faithful to prayer.
In 1977 he went to Brazil as one of the original group of four monks who went there to begin the Trappist-Cistercian way of life in the state of Paraná. He was a pillar of the new community of Novo Mundo in its early days. Eventually he developed cancer. Though he had always been a quiet, somewhat reserved person, during his final illness he reached out with real fraternal warmth to the monks who were caring for him.
Brother Cyprian died at Novo Mundo on Holy Saturday, 1989 and his funeral, attended by many friends of the community, was held on Easter Sunday. He was the first monk of Novo Mundo to die and be buried in its cemetery.
Brother Barnabas Jaksa 1917-2000 – May 28
He was born in Ironwood, Michigan, one of the older children of a rather large Croatian- American family. As a young man he attended college, worked in the automobile industry, and served in the U. S. Navy.
He entered Gethsemani as a laybrother in 1940, and came to Genesee as a founder in 1951. Brother Barnabas was a very solid person, physically and spiritually. For many years he did heavy manual labor on the farm. And he was a very reliable senior brother, steady in his devotion and monastic observance, and friendly in his relations with others.
For two years in the mid-1960s he served as porter at the OCSO Generalate in Rome. In 1977 be went to Brazil as one of the original four members of the community there, beginning at Lapa and later moving to Novo Mundo. At Novo Mundo he again proved to be a reliable senior member of the community, working on the farm and later as porter. In his final years declining health required him to spend much time in the infirmary, where he showed himself a cheerful and appreciative patient. He died quietly in his bed, having received the Anointing of the Sick, in the midst of the Novo Mundo community, the previous morning.
Father Stephen Leahy 1924-2004 – January 27
He was born in Westchester County, New York and attended Fordham University. During World War II he served in the U. S. Army, and was sent by the Army to study at Yale University. He graduated from Yale after the war, and then spent some time living in India. He entered Gethsemani in 1950, and came to Genesee as a founder in 1952.
He was ordained priest, and then sent to study theology at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. He served the Genesee community as professor of theology, novice master, and prior. Fr. Stephen had a lively mind. He was also gifted musically, and contributed to choir as a sub-cantor and by playing various instruments, especially the guitar.
After teaching at Awhum for several months, he went to Novo Mundo as a founder a few years after monastic life began there. He persevered through the early difficult years as the Novo Mundo community struggled to establish itself. This quality of steady perseverance was something that marked his entire monastic life. He died at a hospital in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil after a brief illness, shortly after having been visited by a few of the monks of Novo Mundo.
Dom Jerome Burke 1921-2008 – May 10
He was born in South Braintree, Massachusetts and entered the Redemptorists as a minor seminarian in 1935. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1947 and then studied theology and Sacred Scripture in Rome, where he earned STL and SSL degrees. He then taught Sacred Scripture for several years at the Redemptorist Major Seminary of Mt. St. Alphonsus, Esopus, New York.
He entered Genesee in 1957, and after making solemn vows in 1959 he was Prefect of Studies and taught Scripture for several years. He became abbot in 1964 and. served as abbot until 1971, when he offered his resignation. He then lived as a hermit for several years in a hermitage on the property which he himself had built.
In 1977 he went to Brazil as one of the original founders of the community, first at Lapa, then at Novo Mundo. He served as novice master for a few years. Then he took up the hermit life again, and lived in a hermitage he had built until a few years before he died, when he moved to the Novo Mundo infirmary because of anemia and other ailments. He died in the Novo Mundo infirmary on Pentecost Eve and was buried on Pentecost Sunday.
Of a rather passionate temperament, Dom Jerome devoted himself wholeheartedly to whatever he did. He was abbot of Genesee during a particularly difficult time in the life of the Church and of the community, in the years immediately following Vatican II. As abbot he strove to keep the community to a solid monastic observance, and to strengthen the intellectual life of the community by building up its library holdings and inviting many guest lecturers to visit the community, A man of true holiness, he was always very devoted to the Lord.
Buried at Genesee
Mrs. Gabrielle Chanler 1897-1958 – October 25
Wife of Porter Ralph Chandler. She and her husband both came from prominent families in the Geneseo, New York area. In the late 1940s she encouraged her husband to donate to the Abbey of Gethsemani a tract of land of some 600 acres in Piffard, New York, east of River Road, for the purpose of enabling Gethsemani to make a foundation.
When the original founding group of monks arrived in the Genesee Valley on April 5, 1951 to found the monastery of Our Lady of Christ the King, later known as Our Lady of the Genesee, she and her husband welcomed them to Westerly, their estate south of the hamlet of Piffard.
The monks stayed at Westerly several weeks until Bethlehem House, on River Road north of the hamlet of Piffard, was ready for occupancy. She lies buried in the cemetery of Genesee, next to her husband.
Mr. Porter Ralph Chandler 1899-1979 – November 6
Husband of Gabrielle Chanler. Born into a landowning family in the Geneseo, New York area, he graduated from Harvard, was a lawyer with a New York law firm, and played a prominent role in public life.
With his wife’s encouragement, he donated a tract of land in Piffard, New York, east of River Road, to Gethsemani in the late 1940s, thus enabling Dom James Fox, another Harvard graduate and abbot of Gethsemani, to make Gethsemani’s fourth foundation, Genesee.
At the urging of Father Gerard McGinley, founding superior of Genesee, he was instrumental in purchasing the Burnside farm, west of River Road, and the Sherwood farm, on nearby Retsof Road, with funds donated by Captain Kinnarney of Louisville, Kentucky, another generous benefactor of the fledgling community. These two tracts of land were thus added to the original tract donated by Porter from the earliest days of the monastery. Throughout his life he kept up a lively interest in the welfare of the community.
In his declining years he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and could often be seen and heard shuffling into and out of the Abbey church, where he prayed very devoutly. He lies buried in the Abbey cemetery, next to his wife.
Mr. Sylvester McGinley 1896-1980 – July 7
He was the older brother of Dom Gerard McGinley, founding superior and first abbot of Genesee. In the early spring of 1951 Syl, as he was known to one and all, heard that his brother, Fr. Gerard, would soon be leading a group of monks from Gethsemani to begin the foundation of the new community at Piffard, New York.
He and his wife Madeline offered to come to the site of the new foundation and spend a month there to help in whatever way they could. Their stay was extended, and they wound up staying for the rest of their lives. Syl and Madeline helped the monks in many ways, running errands, helping with the farm, and serving the needs of the monks’ families at the family guest house.
Syl was always friendly, cheerful, very devout, and had an excellent sense of humor. In his later years he retired from active work, but he and Madeline continued to live in a house on the monastic property until his death. He is buried in the Abbey cemetery next to Madeline.
Mrs. Madeline Carey McGinley 1914-2006 – December 7
She was born in the Bronx, New York into a very Catholic, Irish-American family. She married Sylvester (Syl) McGinley, older brother of Dom Gerard McGinley. When she and Syl heard of the plans for Gethsemani’s fourth foundation, to be located in Piffard, New York they responded favorably to Fr. Gerard’s suggestion that they might come for a while and help the monks get started.
They wound up staying for the rest of their lives. For many years they helped with chores of various kinds. Madeline welcomed women guests to the ladies’ guesthouse and cared for their needs. After retiring, they continued to live in a house on Abbey property until Syl’s death in 1980.
Madeline later moved to a nursing home in Rochester with her sister, Mrs. Dorothea Butch. She and Dorothea came frequently to the Abbey for mass and to meet the members of monks’ families, some of whom they had known for many years. A loyal friend of the community throughout the entire course of its first fifty-five years, she died peacefully at the nursing home in Rochester, having been visited by Abbot John Denburger and a number of the monks during her final illness.
A funeral mass, attended by many family members and friends, was celebrated for her in the Abbey church, and she was buried in the Abbey cemetery, next to her beloved husband Sylvester.
Composed by Brother Patrick Ryan, O.C.S.O., monk of Genesee